The Godless Nation: Barkha Dutt With Sadhguru

Sadhguru explains how Hindu is not a religious identity, but a cultural identity. He looks at how Indian culture was never about God, but about freedom and liberation.


NDTV​ ​Consulting Editor Barkha Dutt engages Sadhguru in a conversation during the Penguin Random House “Spring Fever Festival” in Delhi. Sadhguru explains how Hindu is not a religious identity, but a cultural identity. He looks at how Indian culture was never about God, but about freedom and liberation.

Full Transcript:

Barkha Dutt: How do we keep faith, which you say is new to us, separate from politics? You have… You have, in the past for example, I remember when Anna Hazare was lodging his anti-corruption movement, you did come and applaud it but you said that the Lokpal was not some magic wand, I remember you saying that. Do you believe that we are seeing a dangerous cocktail of faith and politics getting more and more mixed up?

Sadhguru: See, it is happening, I’m not saying no but it’s much less than ever before.

Barkha Dutt: Really?

Sadhguru: Yes.

Barkha Dutt: It seems to be much more than ever before.

Sadhguru: No, that’s because of you (Laughter/Applause). That’s because… That’s because if… if ten people get beheaded in some remote part of Iraq, you make sure the blood spills into my sitting room, because of that. Otherwise, you’re sitting here now, today… Let’s say 1,000 years ago, we were sitting here, 1,000 people got killed in Iraq, we will sit here peacefully thinking world is going really great, (Barkha Dutt laughs) spring-time (Laughter), everything is nice. So, this is because the dissemination of information, if ten people get killed somewhere, it’s a huge thing because it comes into our sitting rooms, bedrooms, dining room, everywhere there is a television, so it pours into our homes, so it is happening.

So, this is good because even a small thing looks magnified now in people’s experience but this has been happening always. It’s happening at its lowest level now. Here and there it spurts up, which need (needs?) to be controlled for sure. But what I see is, for the first time, for the very first time in the history of humanity, even if you… the numbers are not qualified because the population has increased, even in terms of percentages of people, how many people can think for themselves today is huge compared to what it was a hundred years ago or five hundred years ago or 1,000 years ago or 10,000 years ago. All these centuries, there would be one man in the village who thinks for you, who reads for you, who writes for you. You just have to do what you have to do, simple things. Today, everybody is able to think for himself or herself.

Now, human intellect is blossoming. I do not say it is blossoming in the right direction, with the right sense, no, insanely it is blossoming. It doesn’t matter, insanity will happen for some time, people will come to their senses. When something is new they’ll go crazy, after some time they’ll come to senses. Once human intellect blossoms sufficiently on the planet, then this looking upward for well-being will not make sense, believe me. Right now, from looking upward, slowly the world is tilting for… In pursuit of human well-being, people were looking heavenward, still many are, that’s different, but a whole lot of people have started looking outward. So if you look heavenward, hallucinations will happen, wars will happen because my heaven and your heaven different, you know? None of the heavens have anything for women, you better know that (Laughter).

Barkha Dutt: I am definitely going to hell (Laughs). Anyway…

Sadhguru: So you believe in heaven and hell (Laughs).

Barkha Dutt: I was being facetious, I was being facetious.

Sadhguru: Let me finish this.

Barkha Dutt: I was being facetious. I don’t know if there is somebody up there.

Time 93:50

Sadhguru: That’s fine, that is fine. I…

Barkha Dutt: Is it a force, is it energy, is that inside me?

Sadhguru: No, I’m saying this… This thing about looking heavenward is slowly going away and in pursuit of well-being, people are looking outward. This is ripping the planet apart. Human pursuit of well-being is just destroying the planet. Now, the fundamentals of what we are transmitting… The fundamentals of this culture, which is essentially rooted in the yogic culture, what you call as Indian culture or Hindu culture is essentially a pure yogic science. In the form of culture, it finds many colors and distortions, which is what you’re seeing as the Hindu culture or Indian culture, whatever you want to call it.

Barkha Dutt: But they’re not interchangeable terms.

Sadhguru: Why?

Barkha Dutt: Because we’re (Sadhguru laughs) a multi-religious country with many different cultures.

Sadhguru: (Laughs) We have…. I want you to (Laughs)… I want you to understand the word Hindu does not signify a religion. You ask them do they worship one god if they are Hindus. In the same family, they’re worshipping twenty-five gods (Laughter). They don’t… They don’t know which is the god, so they’re making sure worship everything (Laughter). Just in case something will hit, okay (Laughter/Applause). Now, the word Hindu means the land between Himalayas and Indusagara. This land, this subcontinent is Hindu. All people who are born here are considered Hindu because it’s a geographical identity. I know there’s a whole political issue, if I speak like this, they say, “Oh! He’s Hindu.”

Time 95:25

Barkha Dutt: No, I mean people will tell you you’re echoing the RSS (Referring to a political party) chief (Laughter)?

Sadhguru: I don’t know what he said, I have not…

Barkha Dutt: He said all Indians are Hindus and there was a huge…

Sadhguru: Okay, I am not…

Barkha Dutt: …political outcry over that.

Sadhguru: Okay, all Indians live between Himalayas and Indian Ocean (Laughter/Applause).

Barkha Dutt: That’s okay.

Sadhguru: Those who want to jump into the ocean…

Barkha Dutt: That’s okay (Laughter/Applause).

Sadhguru: If you live bef… See, this is a dialectical culture, it expresses things in a certain way. Between Himalayas and Indian Ocean if you live, you are a Hindu. If you jump into the ocean and cross, you are a Lanka, okay (Laughter/Applause)? So, I don’t know what is the struggle about this. This is because there is such a narrow understanding of this. This is the debate which we have to change in the country – because somebody has absolute belief systems, we are trying to compare that to a culture where there is no such thing as belief. We have not ever been believers, we’ve always been seekers. This is a land where the highest value has never been God, always liberation, mukti – freedom is the highest goal. God has never been the highest goal (Applause).

So you… you put this in the same box as something, which just believes this is it or you’re dead – unfortunate, that’s not the way to look at it. This is what we have to bring back. If we really value human freedom, you must bring back this seeking for liberation. “I want to be free, not just from others but from myself and my god and my heaven and everything” because God has never been the goal in this culture, God is just another tool. When I use the word tool for a god, people get very hurt. They say, “Sadhguru, don’t say that, it hurts us.” I say, “That’s okay, you come to the ashram, I’ll give you some plumbing job (Laughter), all right?” See…

Barkha Dutt: That’ll hurt more (Laughs).

Time 97:18

Sadhguru: No, no, no. “No spanner, no winch, nothing. Use your fingers, nails, teeth, whatever. Three days later, nails will be gone, half the teeth will be gone. Then I will give you a spanner. Will you worship the spanner or no” (Laughter/Applause)? We are who we are… As… as human beings, we are who we are only because of our ability to use a tool. Otherwise you are not even good as a dog. You can’t even fight a dog, isn’t it?

Barkha Dutt: So you’re against organized religion? Quite clearly, if god is just a tool and faith is not the same as spirituality…

Sadhguru: (Overlapping conversation) No, I… See… No, no, I’m not… I’m not saying I’m against this or that. All I’m saying is I want human beings to come to this much – if you know something you know it, if you don’t know something you don’t know it. Everything that you do not know you believe – this is a dangerous thing. Now, the fight on the planet is not between good and evil, this and that, no – one man’s versus another man’s belief. I’m saying why the hell do you believe anything? Because you’re essentially not straight enough to admit, “I really don’t know.” “I don’t know” people can’t fight. I don’t know, you don’t know – can we fight? “I know” is a fight. “I do not know” is never a fight, “I do not know” is a way of seeking. If we do not establish this seeking in every human being, that every human being is longing to know whether outside or inside, whatever, you are… Because this is the nature of human intelligence, it can’t sit quiet. It can only sit quiet if you freeze it with belief system. If you seal it with belief system, it can sit quiet. Otherwise the very nature of this intelligence is it wants to know.



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  • Akshay

    Good Points, but everyone has capability to become god provided one follows the virtuous principles. However, Big Data and information dissemination has resulted in a flat world, homogenized and thus has resulted in lower spiritual level.

  • Gwen

    Barkha Dutt would benefit from learning a little humility in the presence of Sadhguru. Listening to another is the most important thing we can give to another human. And it is when we listen that we learn…